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Land-use change in a Nordic future towards bioeconomy: A methodological framework to compare and merge stakeholder and expert opinions on qualitative scenarios

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Anne Lyche Solheim
Anne Lyche Solheim, Anne Tolvanen, Eva Skarbøvik, Bjørn Kløve, Dennis Collentine, Brian Kronvang, Gitte Blicher-Mathiesen, Fatemeh Hashemi, Artti Juutinen, Seppo Hellsten, Eija Pouta, Jan Vermaat


Future development of bioeconomy is expected to change land use in the Nordic countries in agriculture and forestry. The changes are likely to affect water quality due to changes in nutrient run-off. To explore possible future land-use changes and their environmental impact, stakeholders and experts from four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) were consulted. The methodological framework for the consultation was to identify a set of relevant land-use attributes for agriculture and forestry, e.g. tillage conservation effort, fertiliser use, animal husbandry, biogas production from manure, forestry management options, and implementation of mitigation measures, including protection of sensitive areas. The stakeholders and experts provided their opinions on how these attributes might change in terms of their environmental impacts on water quality given five Nordic bioeconomic scenarios (sustainability, business as usual, self-sufficiency, cities first and maximizing economic growth). A compilation methodology was developed to allow comparing and merging the stakeholder and expert opinions for each attribute and scenario. The compiled opinions for agriculture and forestry suggest that the business-as-usual scenario may slightly decrease the current environmental impact for most attributes due to new technologies, but that the sustainability scenario would be the only option to achieve a clear environmental improvement. In contrast, for the self-sufficiency scenario, as well as the maximum growth scenario, a deterioration of the environment and water quality was expected for most of the attributes. The results from the stakeholder consultations are used as inputs to models for estimating the impact of the land-use attributes and scenarios on nutrient run-off from catchments in the Nordic countries (as reported in other papers in this special issue). Furthermore, these results will facilitate policy level discussions concerning how to facilitate the shift to bioeconomy with increasing biomass exploitation without deteriorating water quality and ecological status in Nordic rivers and lakes.